Nuestra Señora del Pópulo del Bísanig

About ten miles west of Caborca on the north side of the Río Concepción lie the fairly imposing adobe ruins of a church built by the Jesuits sometime between 1730, when there was none there, and 1768, when the Franciscans took over at the cabecera of Caborca. Always a visita of Caborca, this O'odham community had been called San Valentín de Bísanig by Father Kino and he had seen to the construction of its first house of worship in 1706, one that apparently disappeared during the ensuing twenty-four years. Caborca's first Franciscan minister found an adobe church here with a dirt-covered roof, but one without furnishings." (Pimeria Alta, The Southwestern Mission Research Society)

Father Antonio de los Reyes on 6 July 1772 submitted a report on the condition of the missions in the Upper and Lower Pimería Alta. This was his report on Santa María del Pópulo de Bísanig as translated by Father Kieran McCarty. Note that he refers to Santa María as San Juan.

"The outlying mission station of San Juan at Bísanig lies six leagues to the west of Caborca. They have a church and house for the Missionary but they are without adornment or furnishings. Although they have good lands, the Indians farm little or not at all. They would rather fish in the inlets and along the shores of the sea eight or ten leagues away. According to the Census Book which I have here before me, there are sixty-three married couples, eleven widowers, eight widows, six orphans, the number of souls in all two hundred seventeen. Some of the families of the rebels put down in this last campaign are now living in this Mission and its villages, and by the letters of the Mission Fathers we learn that towards the beginning of this current year of 1772 a number of these rebels were deserting and taking refuge in the hills."

Surviving Franciscan records indicate that friars routinely baptized Pápagos and captive Indians (Nijoras) being raised among Pápagos at Bísanig between 1774 and 1797. Besides there having been a beamed, flat-roofed adobe church and sacristy here in 1797, Father Yturralde observed the floors were of argamasa, lime mortar with a fine finish, one often with powdered fired bricks having been added to the mix to provide a red colored surface. "Even as Caborca was undergoing construction between 1803 and 1809, the Jesuit-built edifice at this visita was being renovated. It remained as an outlier of Caborca at least until 1830." (The Pimería Alta. The Southwestern Mission Research Society)

Last updated: May 14, 2020

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